Minister for Social Accommodation Roderick Galdes has appointed an Adjudicating Panel under the auspices of the Housing Authority, the Ministry announced on Wednesday.
The adjudicating panel will be part of the implementation of the rent law reform which came into effect in January this year and is composed of professionals in the sector who will competently resolve minor disputes between landlords and the families living in rental accommodation when such disputes do not exceed €5,000 in value. The chairperson of the adjudication panel is Dr Carlos Bugeja.
Minister Roderick Galdes has also explained that the panel shall resolve disputes related to maintenance, the security deposit and water and electricity bills.
“This panel which we are introducing, following a wide-ranging consultation process which preceded the drafting of the Private Residential Leases Act, shall alleviate the unnecessary burden on our Courts by resolving minor disputes between the parties, and therefore our Courts shall be in a better position to focus their resources on bigger cases and cases directly related to civil rights emanating from the contractual relationship between landlord and tenant. This shall also help the rental market develop into a more professional and transparent one” said Galdes.
With reference to the above, the Minister for Social Accommodation explained that the results from the study, commissioned by the ministry in conjunction with the Housing Authority to survey the situation in the private rental market during the COVID-19 pandemic, are a testament to this strengthened relationship.
This study was made possible since the government had introduced mandatory registration of private residential lease agreements.
In fact, in the first four months, 10,000 contracts were registered with the Housing Authority.
The minister stated that “trust in the rental market during this pandemic remains strong with 80% of interviewed landlords declaring that they shall continue investing in the private rental market. These results also prove that the relationship between the two parties has been strengthened with 75% of tenants stating that when they asked their landlords for reductions in rent or other assistance during the first phase of the pandemic, their landlords provided the requested assistance. This was corroborated by the finding that 74% of landlords who were impacted by COVID-19 chose to reduce rent voluntarily.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority Leonid Mckay stated that the launch of this panel signals a new chapter in the reform of the rental market in Malta.
He concluded by stating that the authority shall ensure that the process is expedited; that the panel shall have very clear competences; and that access to the system shall be easy and shall only involve nominal fees and expenses which should make it more accessible for everyone including various families and individuals who find it hard to pay for legal expenses.